Paganism and sex…

Some disclaimers and explanations…

This blog post is for ADULTS ONLY and contains descriptions of sexual activity. If you are under the age of 18 please EXIT now. By choosing to read this post you confirm that you are of legal age and desire to read explicit content.

Night-blooming water lilies (Nymphaea lotus)

Night-blooming water lilies (Nymphaea lotus, Egypt)
Wikimedia Commons, Photo: Ben Yanis from Wilmington

I am writing about this topic as a pagan which does not necessarily mean that the topic IS particularly pagan. But since a lot of people in Paganism come from a Christian surrounding and are as a result – to say the least – very often rather insecure about their sexuality I feel that it is necessary to start talking about this matter. I am writing from my very own experience and I would like my advice to be understood as just some of many possible answers. Basically I hope to encourage more communication on this matter rather than setting up universal rules how it has to be although I personally do back my very own rules. But this will only affect you if you plan sexual interaction with me. 😀

Many people in paganism have somehow been traumatized in their sexuality and do – if not openly – but often secretly seek answers. And like with many other questions of everyday’s life we often need to first and foremost refer to common sense and social competence to find solutions and answers.

This blog post might be more of a heterosexually related text basically because that is where I gained most of my experiences from and my personal impression is that same sex relationships are usually more mature on the sex issue than straight relationships, where way too much is taken for granted and remains not discussed. It also seems to me that the problems of same sex couples mostly come from outside (social pressure) and not so much from the inside. Also if you are NOT pagan but seek some views on sexuality from a different angle you might find this post useful so please feel invited to read it.

Kinky Pagans?

Besides being Pagan I have spent a lot of time in the BDSM scene and dealt with a lot of kinks most people would not even be able to think of. And I was amazed to find a lot of those in the Pagan scene, too, but in a more subtle and hidden way. The desire for intense experiences – often interpreted as “spiritual” – extends to the sphere of love and sexuality. I was amazed how many “games” that would perfectly fit into a BDSM context are being acted out unknowingly among people who claim to be spiritually interested. This appears very often as part of complementary narcissistical relationships as I have been writing about in Psychodynamic in heathen society.

Social roleplays with a spiritual or “magic” coloring about being a spiritual teacher or “master” guiding students or followers are very often based on a subliminated, mystified form of eros and by that basically a libido-driven dynamic. Games of power and powerlessness, dominance and submission, ideas of spiritual growth by “enduring pain” or “challenges” are not far from what is acted out consciously in a BDSM setting – the only difference may be that the physical part of it is more vivid and at the center of attention.

I have always been a very curious person and this curiosity together with a passion for psychology has been the motor to develop a high amount of tolerance and intrepidity about sex. The fact that I am pretty open, direct and for some people probably “shameless” has lead many people into either hating me or talking to me openly about their darkest secrets – or both. People have told me things they have not told long-term partners and often enough I have lead people into their own depths just by being there and encouraging them to move further. This has more than once made people hate me because to meet your own depths and dark sides – especially in connection with sexuality – brings up a lot of inner conflicts, traumatizing memories and feelings of shame and guilt together with strong feelings of passion, desire and ecstasy.

Let me give you an advice right here:

Psychological facts

It is a fact that people with kinky preferences have usually developed these from traumatic experiences. Those are mostly rooted in childhood and it is a fact that early conditionings are totally resistant to any kind of therapy. The fact that reproducing situations which are similar to your traumatic ones provides an enormous amount of arousal is part of this “dynamic”. I am intentionally avoiding the words “dysfunction” or “disorder” because I want to provide an unbiased plain functional view on this matter. Of course it is – psychologically speaking – not far from a dysfunction/disorder but you can still learn to function as a person of full integrity. So if you have been humiliated by your parents or relatives and you gain erotic stimulation from humiliation  get used to the fact that this is pretty normal and simply the way how your sexuality is going to function. This can appear more or less physical which means you can be actually be physically sexually stimulated or react with mere emotional excitement (mostly in the reward center of your limbic system) – or both.

If your sexuality is more of the compensating type – e.g. that you need to control and dominate someone to create intense ecstatic feelings then this is going to be how you will function. Again: DEAL WITH IT! Do NOT try to run away from it, stop hating others for it and do not try to pass on the responsibility for it. If your feel you are trying to do that you are simply not ready yet to actually LIVE your sexuality and satisfy your desires (because in fact sexuality CAN do that if practiced maturely). Then you simply need to grow up and come back to it later.

So you basically have no other choice than to deal with it. Because it will not solve, nor will it ease, it is part of you no matter how much you hate it. You can’t run away from it, it’s the shadow that follows you. And learn to admit to the fact that you actually love and need at least 50% of it. It WILL make people mock you or hate you if they find out but I can assure you those who put most effort into condemning you usually have their own issues about it. A big German study has shown that about 60% of people have some sort of unusual sexual proclivity but do not necessarily live it with a partner and keep it as a secret sometimes masked as asexuality. Learn to cope with it in a healthy way – healthy for yourself and your social surroundings. Learn to create settings where you can safely explore your and perhaps your partners depths and learn to communicate about it. Seek people you can talk to openly and learn whom better not to open up to. And be prepared to make mistakes – painful and shameful mistakes. That’s your fate, so you better get a grip on it.

The fact that many people seek “healing” in spirituality together with the therapy resistance of those kind of dispositions very often leads to these kinks being acted out in a spiritual setting. The problem is the actual proclivity is being masked, shamefully hidden and becomes less tangible and controlable.

Rammeside-period ostraca

Rammeside-period ostraca

How to deal with it…

Two very simple rules:

  1. NO is NO.There is no discussion about NO.
    If your NO is a safe-word then the safe-word is as good as NO. If you are unsure about the NO ask again.
  2. Make sure your partner is ABLE to freely say no.
    Emotional manipulation, dependency or fear cut the freedom to maturely say NO. If you feel like that about your relationship – and be it just for as long as your session lasts – STOP IT!

If you have kinky desires and if you have a partner who matches with you be aware that this partner most likely also has his/her history of traumatic experiences. Be grateful because that is WHY you match. Please, people, get real you are not going to find someone who is completely free of traumas and shares your unusual desires. This is why you are both responsible for yourselves and your kinks and if you manage to built up a healthy relationship you can both support one another in this. It is NOT justified to try and pass on the responsibility for your struggling onto someone else. And it is NOT ok to disrespect your partner just because you basically hate yourself for being “disturbed”. If that is how you feel about yourself you are NOT ready to have a partner to share your fantasies with. It’s as easy as that. If your are struggling with moral and self-condemnation issues SOLVE THEM by all means.

To underline this with an example: If you as a man are aroused by a submissive woman by all means be it, but don’t stop respecting her only because you hate your own kinky mind. Humiliate her, dominate her as part of your concensual games but if you catch yourself disrespecting her as a person you better stay alone or leave her. It is NOT her fault that you need to deal with your issues. Or if you as a woman enjoy being dominated be aware you don’t stumble into enjoying the victim role too much just because you have experienced being a victim before and need a perpetrator to act out your traumatic issues. This is NOT your partners fault and not every man who is dominant is abusive. Be aware that you as a “victim” can also push a man into the role of a perpetrator against his will. So by all means come out of your victim role or admit to the fact that this kind of sexuality might not be good for you. Get mature enough to be what and who you are and develop your sexual identity. If you are not stable enough to take the domination, pain or humiliation you actually desire, you are not ready for it and maybe you will never be.

Some facts about body chemistry and subconsiousness…

A sexual relationship does not necessarily require “love”. But it requires trust, respect and consistency. Any violating against those three things can create an enormous amount of traumatizing -and feelings of anger, hate, anxiety, aggression… Intense and deep sexuality WILL bring both you and your partner to limits and close to the depths of your soul. You might find things about yourself you do not like. You might easily overstep borders, face old pain, fear and anxiety. It HAPPENS both to you and your partner and it is a question of respect to be supportive if that occurs as well as self-responsible. Be aware of that. You have neither the right to drop your partner nor do you have the right to completely burden your partner with your inner conflicts. If you are NOT willing or able to deal with this you are not mature enough to have this kind of sexuality. Learn your limits and push them slowly if you desire to do so and make sure your partner is at the same level or if not change your partner and be honest enough to admit that you do not match.

Another aspect of intense and deep sexuality is it’s cyclical character. It is pretty normal that you are going to face times of total asexuality and times of almost addictive/needy desires. This needs to be handled with care especially if you share your sexuality with a partner. Sometimes guilt takes over in the asexual times as well as ruthlessness can be the dominating emotion in the sexually intense times. Don’t let those negative emotions kick you out of your inner balance and most importantly do not by any chance take it out on your partner – especially when the cycles of your partner differ from your own. This is where the trust, respect and consistency comes in and gets rather important because being dropped in this rollercoaster of emotions can be amazingly frustrating and traumatizing.

Sexuality is very often about power and powerlessness, controlling and being controlled, submission, devotion and domination, but it is NOT about breaking someone’s will and violating a person’s integrity. If you can’t spot the difference then you probably need to learn it better. And – believe it or not – it is not so much about love. Quit those romantic assumptions and learn to deal with sexuality like an adult. Do not – by any chance – misunderstand the intense feelings occurring during sexual ecstasy to be “love”. It is mostly just brain metabolism, hormones and neurotransmitters. Yes it is basically as unromantic as that. And just because you develop addictive tendencies, feel a strong desire for those feelings and either project them on one or various partners does NOT mean you love them. Still your desires are of course REAL and need to be taken care of. And they may of course be related to a certain person. It does not help to try and ignore them because that will only make them stronger and less controllable. Learn to deal with them and the most important thing to be able to deal with them is to create a setting of trust and reliability. This does not mean that your partner is “the secure provider” of those feelings. Do not forget to be grateful to your partner and respect him or her for going down the kink road with you and make sure you do the same for your partner – even if it’s just for ONE session. Actually in the end “love” is more about the trust and the consistency rather than the passion. But the passion absolutely needs it’s framework to be expressed. But it has it’s price.

Sexuality is part of society

Even if it is not the actual act many social dynamics are sexual in their basic nature. The more you deal with your own and others people sexuality openly and consciously the more you realize that and the more you are able to keep sexuality in the actual sphere of sexual interaction. And the border to sexual assault is always blurry and will always be. DEAL WITH IT. Nobody is going to do it for you so stop moaning about it, grow up and take over the responsibility for it. Learn to be clear on sexuality and communicate. That requires to be first and foremost clear on what YOU want and develop some confidence about it. And learn to endure that others might not want it. It is their right to say “No”. That is the only way to protect yourself and others from overstepping limits and facing unpleasant consequences. A healthy way of dealing with sexuality is an important aspect of a functioning community.

As a pagan you might not agree entirely on all social rules about sexuality you have been brought up with and it is part of being pagan to learn to deal with this also on a social and not only an individual level. Live your own sexuality as you please but be aware of its social meaning. Ask yourself occasionally if what you personally think as right for yourself functions on a social level, too. Nobody asks you to set up universal moral laws. Try to function like a self-responsible mature adult in your personal social surrounding because if you manage that you have achieved more than most people do. This is – no matter what tradition you follow – one of the basic aspects of successfully forming a community. Learn to talk about things, be courageous enough to question rules and common assumptions. If you feel polygamy works better for you than monogamy than by all means do it but learn to cope with the consequences like taking care of more than one partner. If you are worried about unwanted pregnancy by all means use contraception and communicate about it. And do not push away the fact that sex can actually transmit diseases. Because these are also social aspects! With every unprotected risky sexual interaction you endanger not only your partner but the society you live in by offering a disease a “breeding ground” in your behavior – no matter if you are a man or a woman.

Learn to accept sexuality as what it is: Part of being human, part of society and part of yourself.

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2 Responses to Paganism and sex…

  1. Mechi Badb says:

    I’m not sure what I can add to this, it’s all very well put together and reasonable. I have known unfortunately at least one individual who seemed to have zero respect for their husband’s opinion even though he did marry her knowing full well she was into the lifestyle. He wasn’t and never did come into it. So she continued her liasons and often became romantically involved with her partners (at least on her part and rarely on theirs) which created stress at home. Often times her husband would be left at home to raise their child while she off off on a date or at a club. What intrigued me most was her insistence that this was a Polyamory lifestyle as well, yet when her car broke down, none of her lovers came forward to help. Her husband was the one who helped her and she repaid him by gaining yet another boyfriend. Eventually one of her boyfriend’s wife was included in the triad and things went south from there with jealousy between the women being their main issue. The boyfriend put his wife first and ended the relationship at her request. My friend’s husband also left her because of the lack of trust and her attitude of “I do what I want!”

    So yes trust and compassion needs to be the primary focus in any relationship, monogamous or not, kinky or otherwise.

  2. Pingback: Paganism is not therapy | Kemetic Insights

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